Dungeness Crab & Avocado Omelet

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A decadent and lush omelet.

Sunday was Regina’s second Mother’s Day as a bona fide mom (and not just as a super-duper-stepmom). Naturally Bennet and I treated her to a day of yummy-delicious foods that would help make her feel special and loved. Breakfast was headlined by a dungeness crab & avocado omelet with a hollandaise sauce made with a pinch of cayenne and celery salt. Also on the plate was a toasted English muffin (from Bay’s, our favorite muffin maker) with a dab of Irish butter, a slice of crispy applewood-smoked bacon (from Applegate), and a fruit salad of diced pineapple, watermelon, and Hami melon (sort of an elongated Asian cantaloupe). A glass of freshly squeezed tangerine juice completed this perfect brekkie.

After the eggs are mostly set, add the warm crab and avocado on the half closest to you.

After the eggs are mostly set, add the warm crab and avocado on the half closest to you.

To make one omelet you’ll need:

  • 2 eggs
  • good unsalted butter, about two or three tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup freshly picked and cooked Dungeness crab
  • 2 or 3 slices of ripe avocado
  • salt & pepper
  • hollandaise sauce, recipes follows
  • cilantro leaves for garnish
  • a non-stick 9-inch omelet pan with a lid
  • a heat-resistant silicon spatula

Now do this:

First, make the hollandaise sauce and set it aside according to the directions below.

With a fork whisk the eggs in a bowl until very uniform in color and consistency. In a small pan (not the omelet pan) melt about a tablespoon of the butter over low heat. When the butter is completely melted add the crab. Warm the crab gently and thoroughly and then turn off the heat.

Now heat the omelet pan over medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of butter. When the butter has melted tilt the pan in all directions to make sure the butter coats the bottom surface of the pan completely. Pour in the eggs and using your spatula gently push the eggs toward the middle. Again, tilt the pan in a circular fashion to spread out the whipped eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover with the lid. Cook the eggs (maybe 30 to 60 seconds) covered until just about set, but still slightly moist-looking.

Add the warmed crab to the eggs, spreading it out on half of the omelet surface, preferably the half closest to you. Top crab with avocado. Season with a bit more salt and pepper. Using your spatula gently flop the other half of the cooked eggs over the crab and avocado. Turn off heat and allow the omelet to warm through in the warm pan for about a minute.

Now gently slide the omelet out of the pan onto a plate. Top with about a quarter cup of warmed hollandaise sauce and a clutch of cilantro. Serve warm and eat immediately!

Hollandaise Sauce for Crab Omelets

  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of white pepper
  • room temperature water

Set up a double-boiler. That’s going to be a medium-sized pot with a stainless steel bowl that fits in the top comfortably. Use a deep enough pot so that the bowl has at least four inches of clearance below it. Fill the pot with 2 inches of water in the bottom. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Put the egg yolks and cream into the bowl. Whisk gently together. Placed bowl over the simmering water and whisk consistently (but not too vigorously) until the eggs have thickened slightly. If the eggs get a little clumpy you can add a teaspoon or so of water to thin it out, whisking until smooth.

Now add butter, a few chunks at a time, until it melts. You need to whisk constantly after each addition in order for the butter and eggs to emulsify (combine smoothly). When you’ve whisked in all the butter (which should take about six to eight minutes) add the lemon juice and whisk it in until smooth. Add spices. Now check your consistency. Your hollandaise should be smooth, not too thick, and it should flow. If it seems dense, whisk in a little water.

Now, set aside the bowl of hollandaise (off the double boiler) until you’re ready to top your eggs. Keep your pot of water at the ready. You can replace the bowl over the water, turn the simmer back on, and reheat your hollandaise just before you’re ready to assemble. Again, when you reheat the sauce, if it thickens too much, whisk in a bit of water to thin and smooth it out.

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Yummy brekkie!

Today’s Salad: Poached Egg & Arugula

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Honestly, a poached egg improves just about anything!

Today’s salad is a healthy little number. I poached an egg and perched it atop a mound of wild arugula, chopped cooked turkey bacon, shaved red onion, and little croutons made from toasted Ezekial bread (a sprouted-grain loaf). The dressing is a simple combination of a little white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon juice, agave nectar, and extra virgin olive oil. A scattering of chives and bit of bright green basil oil completed the dish. It was light and lovely.

Easy Tasty Vegan Pizza

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Spicy veggie (and vegan) pizza is a snap to make.

This isn’t much of a recipe post, but more of a suggestion. I whipped up this lovely vegan pizza the other day and it exceeded expectations. Now I’m not a vegan (I’m OMNIVOROUS, baby!) and my tolerance for fake vegan cheese has its limits, but this pizza, notwithstanding the “cheddar-style” rice-based “cheese product” that melted inconsistently over the top, was just dynamite. I’m not going to measure it all out for you this time, but this what I did, more or less.

I had half an Italian eggplant, which was peeled. I diced the eggplant and salted it with a sprinkle of kosher salt. I let that sit for about 20 minutes and then I rinsed the eggplant and dried it well by squeezing it gently with a paper towel. I then sautéed the eggplant in olive oil until nicely browned. Also, I blanched some Tuscan kale in boiling salted water for two minutes. I dropped that into an ice bath to cool it down and then I drained it. I chopped it up nice and fine. I then chopped a little onion and browned that quickly in a pan. I preheated the pizza stone in my oven for 30 minutes at 550ºF (do it on a sheet pan, totally fine).

I took a nice, very flat whole wheat pita and I drizzled a little bit of olive oil over one side. I then spread over it a little homemade tomato sauce (a good jarred one is fine) and then added sparingly a little of each topping: kalamata olives, cooked eggplant, sautéed onions, blanched kale, fresh tomatoes, and pickled jalapenos. I added a few torn pieces of pre-sliced cheddar-style rice (or soy) cheese. I baked it on the pizza stone for about ten minutes. It was, how you say, AMAZEBALLS!

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Yummy and satisfying.

Roasted Paprika-Rubbed “Rock N Roll” Chicken Wings

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Overnight marinating makes these wings super-flavor-flav!

You guys know how much I just LOVE chicken wings, don’t ya? To give you some idea I’ve already published five other posts about wings and I’m sure I’ve alluded to wings in at least six other posts (I’ve linked to the good ones below.) There’s not much more I can add to the pre-existing wing conversation; however, I will reiterate that I absolutely love crisp & chewy skin, I adore the moist tender meat within, and I find irresistible what I like to call the “primal gnaw”, that nearly instinctual desire to chew cooked meat off of bones, using only your hands, in a greasy-fingered manner that recalls primitive man. It’s primal and messy and communal and well, fun.

My usual M.O. when making wings is to par-cook them; first I’ll bake them at a low temperature until about 80% cooked and then I’ll fry them until crisp. This two-pronged approach yields perfectly crisp wings every time. However, cooking them this way means you can’t really infuse the chicken itself with a lot of other flavorings (dried spices and marinades will dissipate the instant the wing hits the hot oil) and you need a finishing sauce of some kind to add some zest — classic Buffalo sauce, bbq sauce, honey-soy sauces, etc. I love the sauces, don’t get me wrong, but the longer the wings are saturated with sauce the father away they get from the skin-crunch ideal.

And of course you can achieve very flavorful wings with other methods — low-oil skillet-frying, grilling — but they don’t come close to deep-frying for crispy skin. I wanted a wing that was shot-through with flavor but came close to the great crispity-crunchity of fried wings. After a little tinkering I found a method that was worth sharing: high-heat roasting wings that have been coated with a moist dry rub, finished under the broil. The results were awesome — crisp and flavorful with no moist sauce to undercut the crunch. I ended up drizzling the still-hot wings with a wee bit of honey and they were AWESOME!

You’ll need:

  • 12 largish chicken wings (tips removed) cut into 24 individual pieces
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine) or anything similar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a little extra when you cook them
  • honey for a last-minute drizzle

Now do this:

Put the cut wings into a large mixing bowl. Mix all the dried spices together and dump it over the wings. Using your hands coat the wings thoroughly with spices. Add the mirin, the soy sauce, and the oil. Coat wings thoroughly with wet ingredients and stick them into a ziploc bag. Wait impatiently for 24 hours. Preheat oven to 525º.

Place wings on a rack set over a sheet pan. Roast wings for 10 or 12 minutes or until the edges of the wings look crisp but not charred. Remove the pan from the oven and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes. Set the oven to broil and place a rack about six inches from the heating element.

Drizzle a little vegetable oil on the “up-side” of the wings. Broil 1 or 2 minutes or until nicely crunchy and a bit charred. Flip the wings and repeat the oil and the broil. Congrats! Your wings are finished.

Drizzle with a little honey if you wish.

Why are they called Rock N Roll Wings? Why not? They rock.

Check out my earlier wing-related posts:

Crispy Wok-Fried Wings: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/crispy-wok-fried-chicken-wings/

Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings, Again: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/honey-ginger-chicken-wings-again/

Late-Night-Guilty-Pleasure Wings: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/late-night-guilty-pleasure-chicken-wings/

Chicken Wings & The Primal Gnaw: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/chicken-wings-the-primal-gnaw/

It’s Game Time:     https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/its-game-time/

Stir-fried Pork and Asparagus with Garlic Black Bean Sauce

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A quick and tasty stir-fry!

What with my wife Regina being of Chinese descent and me being half Vietnamese it’s hardly surprising that we cook a lot of Asian (and Asian-inspired) food at home. I whipped up this little stir-fry a few days ago. It was very quick, very easy to make, and absolutely delicious over a bowl of steamed rice with a dose of spicy sambal oeleck, that awesome chili paste of Indonesian origin popularized by Huy Fong Foods here in the U.S. With a little planning you can have this dish made in about 20 minutes (of actual work).

If you want to try this dish at home you’ll need (approximately):

  • 3/4 pound of pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger, divided
  • 2 tablespoons xao xing (Chinese cooking wine, although sherry is a fair substitute), divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, plus more later
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more later
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 5 medium-thick asparagus spears
  • 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or dried mushrooms reconstituted in warm water)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons garlic black bean sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand, if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped scallions

Now do this:

Cut the pork into rough cubes about 3/4 of inch on a side (don’t take this measurement too seriously). Put the pork into a non-reactive bowl and add 1 tablespoon of ginger, 1 tablespoon xao xing, minced garlic, corn starch, vegetable oil, white pepper, kosher salt, and soy sauce. Mix all the ingredients until the pork is very well coated in the marinade. Marinate the pork a minimum of 30 minutes; I get better results if I marinate it a couple of hours.

While the pork is marinating, prep your veggies. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard. Cut the asparagus at an angle into pieces oh, let’s say an inch-and-a-half in length. Stem the mushrooms and cut into quarters.

When you’re ready to cook, heat a wok (or a very large skillet) over high heat. When the wok just starts smoking swirl 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil into the bottom and add the pork. Stir-fry pork about three minutes until lightly browned all over. Remove cooked pork to a bowl and pour off (and discard) any excess oil. Wipe wok clean with paper towels and place over high heat again. When the wok starts smoking again add the remaining peanut oil. Add the asparagus and stir-fry about one minute. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry another 30 seconds. Add remaining ginger and stir it into the veggies. Add the cooked pork back into your wok. Get the wok super-hot again and add the remaining cooking wine. Stir-fry another 10 seconds and then add the black bean sauce and the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped scallions and turn off the heat.

Remove the stir-fry from the wok and place into a serving bowl. Serve with steamed rice and maybe some slices of fresh cucumber. Top with hot sauce of your choice (sambal oeleck is my preference for this dish) and soy sauce.

Enjoy!

Chopped Veggie Picnic Salad

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A bounty of veggies!

I was inspired to make this salad by my father, a man who believes in eating not only in a heathy manner, but in a way that reflects his environmental concerns. To that end he eats small portions, mostly vegetables, and he eschews beef and gluttony. My dad is a vigorous man and will undoubtedly outlive me, due in no small part to his dietary habits. Now I can’t really embrace that particular lifestyle; I’d say my job doesn’t permit me to eat healthfully, but that’s mostly a cop-out. I just like food of all kinds and I like to eat. I’m OMNIVOROUS, after all, and I probably wouldn’t be cooking for a living if I didn’t like to eat just about everything!

My father is partial to chopped salads and a few months ago during his last visit he made an especially tasty salad of all kinds of things including cauliflower and tofu and cabbage and carrots and tomatoes and about thirty other veggies. This recipe is a bit like that — it’s complicated but easy to make, it’s got all kinds of things going on but works in a balanced way, it’s refreshing but filling, and it’s very open to interpretation. Don’t like cabbage? Substitute with fennel. Don’t like bell peppers? Throw in a summer squash. Don’t like carrots? Throw in fresh corn. Don’t like zucchini…you get the picture. Be creative, use what you have in the fridge, use as many vegetables as you can get your hands on.

Anyway, if you make this recipe don’t feel you have to stick to these quantities. Use what you’ve got and don’t be a stickler. Just keep the general idea of the salad and dress it accordingly. I made the salad vegan, but if you want to use regular mayonnaise in the dressing, have at it!

By the way, it’s called a Picnic Salad because you can dress it in advance and serve it casually. Dress the salad early and then stir in the nuts and corn chips right before serving. One note: the salt in the dressing might pull some moisture out of the veggies and it may be a trifle wet after sitting for a couple of hours; just drain off a little of the excess liquid if you notice that occurring.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups vegenaise or regular mayo
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh basil
  • 3 cups chopped purple cauliflower
  • 3 cups chopped raw white mushrooms
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped watercress
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped pressed (and/or smoked) tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup crushed cashews
  • 1 cup crushed blue corn tortilla chips

Now do this:

Whisk together vegenaise, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, sesame seeds, salt, honey, pepper, and basil. Refrigerate until your salad is assembled.

Toss to combine all of the remaining ingredients above except the nuts and corn chips. Toss with the dressing until nicely coated. Allow the salad to sit, refrigerated, for at least an hour. Drain off any extra liquid and toss in the cashews and blue corn chip. Serve and eat!

Tapas Partay!

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A little blurry, but oh, what a spread!

Last week Regina and I had a couple of great friends over for an early dinner. Well, all dinners are early when you have an infant, but luckily our friends are obliging and understanding. Of course when I put out a spread like this of course they are obliging! Mitch supplied the wine and Stef made a excellent blueberry pie to finish the meal with.

Starting from the bottom left and travelling a meandering path up the table in a vaguely clockwise direction the dishes are as follows: garlic aioli with a touch of saffron, garlicky sautéed mushrooms, paprika-dusted fried chicken wings, roasted purple cauliflower with shallots and a hit of sherry vinegar, marcona almonds, pickled peppadew peppers (say that five times fast!), lightly sweetened olive oil crackers (in the wax paper), assorted olives, patatas bravas (crispy fried potatoes), grilled lamb riblets, grilled ribeye with roasted garlic, lobster with saffron sofrito, grilled bread for pan con tomate, membrillo (Spanish quince paste), assorted cheese platter including cabrales, idiazabal, some kind of hard Basque cheese that I’ve forgotten the name of, and some nice Spanish chorizo (not to be confused with the Mexican stuff), clams with garlic and white wine and diced chorizo, and finally at the bottom right a plate of hand-shaved slices of one of the world’s great cured meats — Jamon Iberico “pata negra” — a dry-cured ham made from these cute little black pigs that feast on acorns.

Eating like this — with a wide assortment of small plates with complementing and contrasting flavors and textures and colors — is so enjoyable and delicious and fun and communal that I wish we could feast like this every night! I’d be 300 pounds, but I’d be happy as a clam cooked with white wine and chorizo.